day 2: cozy comfort food

Sometimes you don’t want the trendy dish with the cool cutouts in the hip ramekin. You just want to turn on the 24/7 Christmas music station and make comfort food like your grandma used to serve on Christmas Eve. Here are some dishes that take us back to 1986, when Santa was just hours away from landing and the biggest problem was deciding if Rudolf would prefer carrots or cookies.

Acorn Squash
serves 4 • 1 hour • $

2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter, diced
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Place squash in a shallow baking pan, cut side down.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until tender.
3. Turn cut side up; season with salt and pepper, dot with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
4. Bake for 20 minutes more.

Download recipe card.

Hearty, Italian Lasagna
serves 10-12 • 1 hour • $$$

2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 Italian sausage link removed from casing (use spicy or hot Italian sausage for an extra kick!)
1 pound beef (8 ounces for less meaty)
2/3 cup sweet, yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon oregano
16 ounces tomato paste
10 ounces mini diced tomatoes, drained
18 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/8 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces mozzarella cheese
2 cups Parmesan Cheese

1. Saute salt, sugar, and garlic in a medium to medium-large sized sauce pan (cover if possible).
2. Remove Italian sausage link from casing, cut or tear into small pieces to be browned with the beef.
3. Add the sausage and beef into the sauteed mixture, brown on a medium heat
4. Add onions, garlic salt, and oregano to the browning meat.
5. Add tomato paste and drained mini-diced tomatoes.
6. Keep at medium to medium-low heat and let thicken while preparing the additional parts.

Boil a pot of water. Once at a boil add noodles for 7 minutes. Should be al dente. Do NOT let sit in the water. Immediately drain boiling water and fill basin with cold water, covering the noodles, so the noodles to not dry sticking together. This should be timed out so that the cook is ready to start layering the lasagna together right when the noodles are done boiling.

1. Mix together egg, ricotta cheese, and 1/8 cup of milk, adding chopped parsley to the mixture when even.
2. In large casserole pan, layer 1/2 Italian tomato sauce followed by a layer of noodles.
3. Layer half the ricotta mixture topped with a layer of 1/2 cup parmigiana and layer 6 ounce mozzarella. Then add a layer of noodles.
4. Layer remaining ricotta mixture topped with remaining mozzarella
5. Layer remaining tomato meat sauce
6. Finish with a layer of parmigiana
7. Cover with tin foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes
8. Remove tin foil covering and bake for 20 additional minutes (add 5-10 minutes for a more crisp and golden-topped lasagna).

Download recipe card.

Cheesy, Green Bean Casserole
serves 10-12 • 35 minutes • $

4 cans french-style green beans
3 cans cheddar cheese soup (use two cans for less cheese)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large can fried onions

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, except about 1/3 of the fried onions to be sprinkled over the top.
2. Pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with the remaining fried onions.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. (If preferred, cover with tin-foil to avoid over-crisping the top layer of fried onions.)

Download recipe card.

– Acorn squash by Ananda + Benjamin Spadt, Lasagna and Green Been Casserole by Ashley Kosmicki